Open Accessibility Menu

The Link Between Physical Activity & Bone Density

  • Category: Blog
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Fox Valley Orthopedics

The benefits of exercise are well established, and many know how it improves muscle strength, stamina, endurance, while reducing the risk of obesity. What many haven’t heard is how physical activity is essential to build and maintain healthy bones and that inactivity has a direct correlation to bone loss. This means it is particularly important for older adults to get regular exercise to keep their bones healthy, not to mention to boost their overall health. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week. While exercise is only part of the puzzle to maintaining good bone health, the benefits of getting enough exercise cannot be denied, especially for older adults with osteoporosis.

I’m an Older Adult. Why Should I Exercise?

Physical activity at any point in life positively affects bone health, but especially so for older adults, who are at risk of bone loss. Bone is living tissue, like muscle, that responds to exercise. Aging diminishes bone mass, as most people’s bone density peaks during their 30s and declines every decade following. It’s possible to prevent bone loss with regular exercise. That’s because exercise has collateral benefits, such as improve strength, coordination, and balance, which is especially important to prevent falls and related bone fractures. For adults with osteoporosis, a condition that causes weaker, more brittle bones, it’s even more important to exercise.

I Have Osteoporosis. Isn’t Exercise Dangerous for Me?

While it may seem like exercise would be unadvisable for those with brittle bones, The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says the exact opposite is true. Many people who have osteoporosis remain undiagnosed until they have broken a bone, making it all the more essential for older adults to prevent bone loss and nip the problem in the bud. Weight-bearing endurance activities are some of the best exercises to boost bone health, such as tennis, jogging, or weightlifting. You should increase resistance gradually rather than start with high-impact activity.

Osteoporosis patients, especially those with co-occurring health conditions like diabetes or heart disease, should speak to their doctor before beginning a new exercise routine, just to make sure they stay safe and don’t overexert themselves.

Why Osteoporosis Patients Should See an Orthopedist

Exercise is only part of an osteoporosis prevention or treatment program. Eating a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D helps strengthen bones, and you should avoid tobacco use or excessive drinking. An orthopedist is a physician who specializes in the musculoskeletal system. This includes the bones, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue, making orthopedists the best doctors to have at your side if you are an older adult and concerned about osteoporosis. You can ask your doctor whether you should be tested for bone mineral density and what medications or treatments would be best to keep yourself safe from bone fractures and curb osteoporosis progression as you age. Osteoporosis is particularly common in women after menopause.

Contact Fox Valley Orthopedics

Interested in learning more about how exercise can increase your bone density, or concerned you may have osteoporosis? Get in touch with us at Fox Valley Orthopedics today. You can book an appointment by dialing (630) 584-1400 or contacting us online.